Iconic First Republic Tatra 77a restored after 50-year-long wait

Tatra 77a

Apparently the first aerodynamic mass-produced car in the world, the Tatra 77a is notable for not only having the usual two left and right headlights, but also one in the middle. With only a few cars of this model surviving until today, one of the iconic limousines was restored by the National Technical Museum with the help of EU funds and can now be seen at the Plzeň region’s branch of the museum in the town of Plasy.

With only a few left in the world, the Tatra 77a is one of the small number of cars included on Czechia’s National Cultural Heritage List. Jiří Hulák from the National Technical Museum describes its main features:

Jiří Hulák | Photo: Martina Schneibergová,  Radio Prague International

"This 5.3 metre-long car started the tradition of large aerodynamic Tatra cars. The engine had a volume of 3.4 litres and the bodywork was completely unique for its time. The maximum speed was said to be 150 kilometers per hour and consumption was between 15 and 18 litres. The steering wheel can be found on the right, as is common for First Republic cars."

The reason for this is that during the First Republic, Czechs drove on the left – it was only with the Nazi occupation in 1939 that they began driving on the right, and so cars began to be produced with the steering wheel on the other side.

Tatra 77a | Photo: Lukáš Milota,  Czech Radio

The particular car owned by the National Technical Museum was purchased in August 1937 by Evžen Porák, the owner of a large paper mill in Loučovice in Šumava, and was used as a company car. In 1974, it was given to the National Technical Museum in very poor condition. It took 50 years for the car to be restored, which finally happened with the help of EU funds. Aleš Hyner from the National Technical Museum describes the state of the car before its restoration.

“When we first got the car, it was a wreck. Among other things, it had its central reflector removed – one of the things which was so unique about the car. We tried to restore everything to its original condition."

Tatra 77a | Photo: Lukáš Milota,  Czech Radio

This exclusive Tatra car cost around CZK 100,000 in its time – about the same price as a family house. The main buyers of this luxury vehicle were most often the army and companies, as few ordinary people could afford such an expensive car.

As well as its three headlights, the car is also distinguished by its shape – it is rounded at the front and pointed at the back. The fully restored car can now be seen in the Plasy branch of the National Technical Museum.

Authors: Anna Fodor , Lukáš Milota | Source: Český rozhlas
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